Players already benefitting from Olympic turf
Legacy, by definition, is something received from the past. But in the case of Tokyo2020, a hockey legacy is already being played out despite the fact that the Games have not yet taken place.
Since their official inauguration on 17th August 2019, the North and South turfs at the Oi Hockey Stadium have between them, welcomed over 1,400 players ranging from 14 to over 80 years old. With regular fixtures cancelled as a result of COVID-19, the Olympic turfs have given teams the opportunity to meet throughout the Autumn of 2020. For these players, they have rescued a season. And between now and the start of the games, it’s expected that at least the same number of players again, if not more, will benefit from the turfs before Tokyo’s Games even begin.
A more accessible, new standard of turf
The pitches have also become the new home of the Tokyo Area University League which includes 50 men’s and women’s teams across three divisions.
Kevin Dempster, Hockey’s Technical Operations Manager for Tokyo2020 explains;
“It is a wonderful facility for a University League. Not only do the teams get to play on an official Olympic turf but the central location makes the game far more accessible to players who no longer need to travel as far.”
Growing the game in Tokyo and beyond
The Olympic turf benefit was extended beyond the capital when it hosted the top university teams across the country in the annual All Japan University Masters Championships in late October and early November.
“Without question, the Olympic turfs have already made a big difference to hockey here. There hasn’t really been a proper hockey facility available to the public in Tokyo until now. Historically, most of them are privately owned and the only public facility available was the sand-based turf in the old Olympic venue. To have state of the art turfs available to anybody is just wonderful and will be great for the future of hockey.”
Climate Positive Hockey
And importantly, for a Games which has set about realising the vision of being the first carbon-neutral Olympics in history, the playing performance is not the turf’s only benefit.
Both of the competition turfs and the two training turfs are the most sustainable hockey turf ever used in international competition. The turf is made from 60% renewable sugar cane yarns laid on a shock pad made from fully recycled rubber and a binder which is made by capturing C02 gas. In addition, the turf requires two-thirds less water than those used in previous Olympic Games.
The environmental legacy of the pitch is something Dempster and Tokyo2020 are quick to embrace:
“The sustainability aspect of the turf is really positive. We’re looking to cut back our impact on the environment wherever possible and the green technology in these turfs is helping us to achieve this. The reduced water system not only treads more lightly on the environment, it also requires less maintenance making it a more user-friendly product which is also a win for us.”
Whilst the turfs were officially inaugurated on 17th August 2019 with the start of the Olympic Test Event, Dempster reveals that they were unofficially Christened by the Tokyo2020 office hockey team some days earlier:
“I’ve been part of the project team since the early days and the North turf feels like a new child to me. To finally run out there is something I’ll never forget. I kind of felt like a new father.”
The emotional investment and therefore, the emotional legacy of these turfs, it would seem, is strong.
And in a welcome anachronism for a year that has seen so many cancelations and postponements, Tokyo2020’s hockey legacy is already well underway.